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Warriors appear skeptical after Draymond vows to fix himself

NBC Sports

SAN FRANCISCO -- Draymond Green spent nearly 40 minutes Saturday expressing contrition for his latest outburst, acknowledging he is a prisoner of his emotions and vowing to search for composure.

This would be refreshing if it weren’t a theme with which the Warriors are all too familiar.

That is the problem. Draymond is a repeat offender, and each offense erodes his status as a leader.

“I am a very flawed human being,” Green said. “I personally know those flaws better than anyone. The work that I’ve done to correct those flaws has been tremendous, and yet there’s still a very long way to go. That’s a constant work in progress. I’m a constant work in process.”

The Warriors have heard similar remarks. They heard them in 2016, after Draymond wanted a piece of coach Steve Kerr in that infamous halftime disturbance in Oklahoma City. Heard them again 21 months later, after Draymond spewed vitriol in a public quarrel with teammate Kevin Durant. There eventually was an apology, but Draymond undoubtedly realized the incident not only hurt the team but represented a breach of trust.

And here we are, almost four years later, with Draymond throwing and landing a punch to the face of smaller teammate Jordan Poole during a preseason practice Wednesday. The only luck the Warriors can find in this incident is that each man, crucial to the success of the team, avoided serious injury.

“From a human being standpoint, from a personal standpoint, I have some things to fix,” Green said. “And I’m going to fix those things.”

 

How far, though, can trust be bent and twisted before it breaks?

The Warriors are grappling with that question and will be for as long as Draymond is on the roster. They’re wondering if the “mutual” decision for him to remain out of sight indefinitely -- the word suspension was not used -- will make a difference upon his return. They’re also wondering if their previous tolerance of out-of-pocket behavior from a player of such unique value makes them complicit in this eruption of brutality.

Which ought to lead everybody at or near the top of the franchise -- from CEO Joe Lacob to president/general manager Bob Myers to coach Steve Kerr -- to a deeper and more ominous question: How far are we willing to stretch our principles in pursuit of victory?

And Draymond, feeling every bit of the distress, conceded nothing he can say will matter as nearly as much as what he does.

“You apologize with words,” he said. “But, ultimately, your actions show your apologies. I’ve apologized with my words to my team and to Jordan. And now I will allow my actions to show my apology.”

Kerr’s body language all but shouted skepticism. When I asked Kerr if he felt trust had been compromised, he paused briefly before uttering two words heavy with implication: “No comment.”

When I asked Kerr if Draymond, being a veteran, could simply slide back into the lineup without the need for much of a training camp, his response was more perplexing: “Speculation.”

That’s where the Warriors are, where Draymond’s history has put them as well as him. Whether it’s barking at referees or beefing with teammates or, in this instance, balling up a fist and firing, his emotions control him better than he contains them.

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“Hurt people hurt people,” he said. “I was in a very contentious space that morning, dealing with some things that are very near and dear to me. And I hurt someone because I was in a place of hurt. For that, I have apologized.

“You apologize with words, but, ultimately, your actions show your apologies. I’ve apologized with my words to my team and to Jordan. And now I will allow my actions to show my apology.”

Draymond said he apologized not only to JP but also to his parents and family. He sounded sincere. Most of what he said seemed genuine. But the pattern has yet to change. Emotional outburst, apology, chase a championship. Repeat. 

The Warriors would love to believe this is the last of these tirades, that Draymond will come back with detectably better emotional balance while still retaining the passion that makes him a great player.

At the moment, there is no rational reason to be confident that wish will come true.

“We’ll see,” Kerr said. “Things will play out. There’s no predicting anything. Things have to play out. You just keep moving forward."

 

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